Community Impact

Virtual learning with a little help from Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy and Google Fiber

Many students have been navigating virtual learning since last spring. Google Fiber has partnered with organizations and school districts in our cities to help make it easier for students and their families to connect and continue their learning journeys, whatever form that may take. Today, we’re excited to share a guest post from Malena Juarez, a senior at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, who attends the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy Virtual Learning Program. The Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy is one of our Google Fiber Community Connections, which provides gigabit internet to the organization at no cost.

When I first came to the Academy, I was amazed by the sight of the facility and the huge softball field and baseball fields. It was a dream come true. To me, the Urban Youth Academy is a place of opportunity and growth. It has now become my second home. The UYA will forever have impacted my life positively, giving me a place to grow as a softball player and as a person in my community. The wonderful people I’ve met there have always been such great role models, who only wanted to see me succeed.

I started playing softball when I was 10 years old, but had no idea what softball really was. But, as the years went by, softball then became my life. Moving to Lincoln Prep, I found out there was no team. It was always hard not being able to play the sport you love going into high school. During my junior year, the UYA helped tremendously by allowing our softball team to use their field and equipment to practice and play our games. I was finally able to play the game I love at the place I love. It meant so much to me and was very influential to me; I wanted to give back to my community just as the UYA did.

Being a senior during this very interesting year of 2020 has been very difficult for me. As the oldest of three kids at home trying to manage everything being virtual, I felt very overwhelmed from making sure lunch was made at a certain time and homework was being done, to answering what felt was a million questions about school from my sisters and brothers. I always believed my senior year was going to be very stress-free, but with our current situation, it has been the exact opposite.

Just as I was feeling it was all too much, I received a text message explaining what seemed to be a cool program —  the Virtual Learning Program at the UYA. The program currently has 50 high school students enrolled from 17 different schools in the KC area. It runs Monday-Friday, usually from 7 am-4 pm which allows us to complete our schoolwork and participate in baseball and softball workouts each day.

At first, I thought it probably wouldn’t work out for me to attend, because where would my younger siblings go? That’s when I had a conversation with the Director of the Virtual Learning Program explaining the circumstances. Thankfully, they worked with me, and now my younger brother attends the program as well. So now, there is no worry about missing school to make lunch, and I’m only answering one question here and there! The only focus I have is school, and it is easier to do the best that I can.

Coming to the UYA for the Virtual Program, Google Fiber’s high speed internet has been a tremendous help to me and my siblings. We are now able to go throughout the day with no problems with our connection. We can now focus on our school work.. It means a lot and has taken a great deal of stress off our shoulders.

I just wanted to say a great big thank you to the Urban Youth Academy, the Virtual Program, and Google Fiber for being a great help to me. It has made such a huge impact on me and others. You have made me feel important and valued, and I could not thank you enough.

Posted by Malena Juarez, Senior at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy

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